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JFK-ZRH LX new F Inaugural A330-300 20 Apr 09

JFK-ZRH LX new F Inaugural A330-300 20 Apr 09

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Old Apr 25, 09, 3:01 am
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JFK-ZRH LX new F Inaugural A330-300 20 Apr 09

I was privileged to fly with my wife in F (with our sons in C) on the A333 on the inaugural LX15 JFK-ZRH on 20 April. Without writing a full trip report, I thought I’d share some of the experiences unique to the inaugural flight, as well as some views of the new product itself.

The inaugural experience

When we arrived at the JFK First check-in, the staff were all very excited. They’d heard about the new plane but hadn’t yet seen it and expected to be given a look inside before boarding. As I said in my earlier post, they repeatedly referred to Business as being like First “with flat beds”, although I guess that just meant they weren’t at all familiar with other airlines which already offer a flat bed in C.

On arrival into the Swiss F lounge, we found the Swiss Chief Network and Distribution Officer, Harry Hohmeister, meeting in the private dining/meeting area with what appeared to be a number of journalists. Shortly afterwards there was a PA announcement inviting passengers to join a celebration toast in the Business lounge.

[Post Script - a couple of days after the flight on 23 April, LX announced the appointment of Mr Hohmeister as its new CEO. See this thread http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/swiss...-leave-lh.html ]

After being introduced (and with us being informed that Mr Hohmeister had taken the inaugural LX14 flight out and “still fresh as he’d flown on Swiss” was turning straight round on the inaugural LX15 flight back to ZRH), Mr Hohmeister spoke for a few minutes about the virtues of the new plane, how excited Swiss is to be able to launch the new product and some of the new features in each of the three classes of service. The listening audience seemed to be almost exclusively “suits” rather than travellers, being primarily officials from JFK, Star Alliance, the local handling agents and the local Swiss team etc, as well as a number of journalists. A small number of F/C passengers also listened and joined Mr Hohmeister in a glass of champagne.

Before boarding commenced, Mr Hohmeister went to the gate and undertook a ribbon cutting ceremony, although we didn’t see this as we stayed in the lounge and ate some dinner before boarding. When we arrived at the gate, we saw it had been decorated with flags and banners etc.

On boarding, it was clear that members of the onboard crew were equally as excited as the ground staff in being a part of the inauguration flight. Both the Maitre de Cabin and the Captain made special mention of the flight’s status in their welcoming announcements and the M de C provided each F passenger with a signed commemorative welcome card and a model of the plane. C pax received the model but no signed welcome card. I don’t know whether Y pax received anything.

The cabin crew made it clear that this was the first time they’d actually seen the hard product, having not had any opportunity for familiarisation with the new aircraft before they boarded earlier that evening in JFK. They were keen to receive our feedback on comfort etc. All their instructions and training seemed to have come from booklets rather than hard familiarisation, although this didn’t lead to any difficulties. I didn’t ask the extent to which the flight crew had seen the aircraft before – best not to know!

Mr Hohmeister continued his PR role after boarding, not coming into the F cabin until shortly before take-off and seemingly continuing to talk to journalists etc further back in the plane. For the flight he was seated beside me in 2A (my wife and I were in 2D&G) but after a quick snack got his head down and slept most of the way back to ZRH, without any interaction with the other F pax.

Occupancy in the F cabin was only 6/8, with 1D&G unused. This surprised me a little as I’d have thought Swiss might have upgraded some of the other travelling dignitaries or journalists to let them experience the new F product.

The new product

Thanks to rorschi for his link to pictures of the cabin (below). I therefore haven’t bothered adding any pictures here.

http://www.flightforum.ch/forum/showthread.php?p=612021

For those who haven't seen it, the interactive view of the new cabin is here:

http://www.swiss.com/web/EN/services...rst_class.aspx

The main thing that struck me was the real quality feel of both the F and C cabins. I didn’t see the Y cabin. All of the materials seemed to be of a very high quality, including the seat materials, the F wooden seat surround, cupboard and tray tables as well as the partitions.

The seat itself was extremely comfortable for sleeping and dining, but I didn’t really get a feel for how comfortable it would be for sitting/lounging on a daytime flight. There is a good range of one-touch pre-set positions for the seat (take-off/landing, dining, relaxing and flat-bed). I had the impression though that you’d need to fiddle/experiment a little with the settings to find the most comfortable non-sleeping position, but didn’t bother doing this as I wanted to get some sleep after having a quick meal (starters, cheese and port only).

The “remote control” provided for adjusting each seat seemed fairly intuitive and I was able to achieve the adjustments I wanted pretty easily. The one thing I couldn’t easily get to grips with was the air-cushion adjustment. I couldn’t really feel any impact of the adjustments I made, although perhaps I didn’t give the system long enough to adjust. This is probably something to work out on a daytime flight.

The dining table seemed slightly larger (but I might be wrong) than the one in the old LX F seat (which we’d taken on the way out to Miami the previous week) and would have provided plenty of space had we wanted to share an ottoman dining meal.

As a bed, the seat felt completely flat and without some of the bumps you sometimes get in a flat bed. The arms fold down in bed mode, providing a good wide sleeping area. With the excellent duvet and pillow, it was extremely comfortable and, even after a quick meal, I was able to get a solid five hours sleep, which is as much as you can really hope for on an East Coast US flight (when also having something to eat).

The sliding screens on the F seats really helped provide good privacy and create a “suite-type” feel. These operate electrically using a button on the inside of the screen. It will be interesting though to see whether these get easily damaged as, whilst they certainly feel solid, I saw a member of cabin crew just push the screen on 2K back manually before landing, rather than using the button provided. The screens may be designed to accommodate this, but time will tell.

The cabin layout, with use of the seat screens, creates a high degree of privacy. As a solo traveller, the A and K seats are clearly preferable and I think I’d probably go for 2A/K rather than 1A/K due to the slightly higher degree of privacy away from the front of the cabin where the galley and toilet are located. For couples, 2D&G would be better than 1D&G, again for reasons of privacy. The dividing screens between the D&G seats would also make these more than acceptable for solo travellers if the A/K seats are unavailable.

The large video screen in F (seemingly the same size as the TV in our bedroom at home!) was really impressive and clear and great for watching movies. The “airshow” programme has some nice enhancements from that on the 343, including a nice new graphical route/progress map.

To answer LXA350’s question, I wasn’t aware of any technical difficulties with the entertainment system or the F seats, but can’t speak for the C seats. The only slight glitch related to the advance gate information provided for connecting flights before landing, which was presented as just a stream of raw data, without any of the usual presentational formatting. It still showed all the necessary information, but was hard to read. The M de C apologised for this “technical glitch”.

My only criticism of the F seat would be of a lack of storage space. There’s room for shoes etc under the ottoman facing you, and there are two small cupboard spaces under the wooden centre console “flap” on either side of the table. There’s also a slim hole to the aisle side of the ottoman in which are stored the entertainment guide, safety briefing etc. The amenity kit fits (with a squeeze) into one of the two centre console holes (where the seat remote, entertainment remote, power point and headphone and USB sockets are located), but there seemed nowhere other than under the ottoman to store the case for my Bose QC2 headphones.

My other criticism is consistent with the old F cabin. One toilet to cover the 8 seat F cabin, as well as crew wanting to use the facilities, isn’t really enough and ideally these cabins should have been designed to accommodate two toilets.

Generally, this is a very good First product and I’d have absolutely no hesitation in using it again (cash or miles permitting).

In terms of the C seat, both my sons (late teenagers, sitting in 4D&G at the front of the mini cabin) thought it much more comfortable than the flat bed C seats they’ve experienced on both BD and SA. They said it was completely flat, again without the bumps etc usually experienced on other C flat seats. They both slept for six hours very comfortably.

With the staggered seating layout, the C cabins looked a little cluttered. However, the single A “throne” and K seats looked really excellent and, aside from the lower privacy and service levels, are likely to be almost as good as many airlines’ first class products.

Overall, the flight was a great experience and much better than the old F product on the 343. I'm now itching to try it again on a daytime flight.

Last edited by Corpt; Apr 25, 09 at 3:31 am
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Old Apr 25, 09, 5:17 am
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Thanks for the review of the new A333!
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Old Apr 25, 09, 3:55 pm
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I think its great to see A330-300 inaugural for ZRH-JFK. So I didn't see the cabin pictures inside of A330 aircraft. So maybe next time if you would like to put these pictures on the trip reports for me. I would love to see more cargo hold, Gallery, cabin view and etc. I am never been flown on Airbus A330 yet. Hopefully someday in the future if I will try to get on newest A330 aircraft but, I saw it was brand new cabin interiors inside of Y class. I believe it was so much extremely comfortable for me.
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Old Apr 25, 09, 6:37 pm
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Originally Posted by N830MH View Post
I think its great to see A330-300 inaugural for ZRH-JFK. So I didn't see the cabin pictures inside of A330 aircraft. So maybe next time if you would like to put these pictures on the trip reports for me.

Pictures of all three cabins are in the link I included:

http://www.flightforum.ch/forum/showthread.php?p=612021

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Old Apr 27, 09, 10:09 am
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Originally Posted by Corpt View Post
Pictures of all three cabins are in the link I included:

http://www.flightforum.ch/forum/showthread.php?p=612021

Ausgezeichnet.
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Old Apr 27, 09, 10:17 am
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Here is a link to the Zürich Tages Anzeiger's video report auf Zürideutsch: http://www.tagesanzeiger.ch/leben/re...story/11196619
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Old Apr 27, 09, 1:35 pm
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Thanks for the TR! Looking forward to flying that bird in the future.
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Old May 5, 09, 4:50 am
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Thanks to Barry Vinegar for posting some pictures:

http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/trip-...l#post11696249

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Old May 5, 09, 10:41 am
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Nice, detailed TR. Thanks for sharing.
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Old May 5, 09, 7:40 pm
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Originally Posted by N830MH View Post
I would love to see more cargo hold


Just curious; can you honestly tell the difference between one cargo hold and another?!

Last edited by patgarrett; May 5, 09 at 8:01 pm
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Old May 6, 09, 1:33 am
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Excellent report!!
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Old May 6, 09, 8:26 am
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Originally Posted by N830MH View Post
So maybe next time if you would like to put these pictures on the trip reports for me. I would love to see more cargo hold, Gallery.

Cargo hold
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